TESCO NFL Round 4 Previews

Cavan v Down - TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Intermediate Championship Semi-Final

TESCO NFL Division 1

Cork v Galway, Mourneabbey GAA, 7:30pm (S. Joy)

Cork suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of Monaghan last time out and will be determined to put that right this weekend when they meet Galway on Friday evening. The Rebellettes struggles to defeat Kerry by a point in Round 2 and followed that up with defeat last weekend so Galway will have to be on red alert against the wounded champions. The form of Grace Kearney has been a real bonus for Cork as the attacker scored both goals against Monaghan. Valerie Mulcahy is as always the real threat in attack but Orla Finn has certainly been making a greater impact this season and could be a key player for the rest of the league. Galway are top of the table and undefeated to date including earning a hard fought draw against Dublin. There is a greatly talented squad that will all want to take any chances to stake their claim for a starting place. Edel Concannon has been in tremendous form in the early rounds of the league with Louise Ward and Tracey Leonard also in good scoring form as Annette Clarke provides leadership from the centre of the field. A weakened Galway team might struggle to get the victory but this match will be a great gauge of exactly how much of a threat they will be to Cork’s crowns later in the year.

Sunday, 1st March

TESCO NFL Division 1

Kerry v Dublin, Direen (Legion), 12:30pm (N. McCormack)

Kerry had an unplanned week off as a result of the cancellation of their home tie against Laois so they will be raring to go and banish the memories of their last match against Cork which they lost in agonising fashion. Alan O’Neill has reinvigorated the Kingdom and players like Louise Galvin and Lorraine Scanlon have both enjoyed a great boost in their personal form. Louise Ní Muicheartaigh and Sarah Houlihan remain the focal points of the Kerry attack but the best duel may well be that between Cáit Lynch and Lyndsey Davey. Dublin had been in ominous form until Mayo visited DCU and left with the victory after a tough and tense encounter. Dublin have been left reeling after that defeat and will be expected to make some changes to their line up. Noelle Healy was used as a substitute in that match so expect the 2014 All Star to start this encounter. Dublin’s defensive unit will want to make amends after struggling with Cora Staunton with leaders like Sinead Goldrick and Sinead Finnegan ready to show a good example to the younger players. This will be a great battle between two good sides that tend to bring the best out of each other. Home advantage could push this in Kerry’s favour but with the shock of last week’s defeat Dublin will be in determined form and could well leave with the points.

Laois v Monaghan, Crettyard GAA Club, 2:00pm (C. McManus)

Laois have been in disarray in the league to date as they suffered heavy defeats at the hands of both Galway and Mayo and were forced to cancel their match with Kerry due to a virus that swept through the panel. There is no doubt that there is plenty of talent in the ranks and that is something that new manager, Phil O’Keefe will hope to bring to the fore. Monaghan started the league slowly against Dublin as they limped to defeat but since then they have begun to look like the team of old as they dispatched Tyrone and then stunned the champions last weekend in front of a great home crowd. Laura McEnaney has been one of the real form players in the league to date as she has racked up plenty of goals whilst former All Star, Ciara McAnespie, has been a great boost to the team. Sharon Courtney is still one of the best defenders in the country as is Grainne McNally who has been in great form at wing back. Monaghan will want to maintain the momentum that defeating Cork has generated and with Laois currently struggling it will be hard to see anything other than an away win.

Mayo v Tyrone, Swinford Community Park, 2:00pm (G, Champman)

Mayo are coming off the back of one of their best wins in recent years as they defeated Dublin in the previous round thanks in no small part to Cora Staunton who accounted for 11 of their 13 points. Frank Browne has returned to Mayo and has brought with him a disciplined and well structured defensive pattern to their play that leaves Staunton with all the room she needs to get those scores. Yvonne Byrne was the All Star goalkeeper in 2013 but she has now moved to a new position where she plays as an extra defender despite wearing the number 14 jersey, Fiona Doherty is a precocious young talent and she has been a great boost to the cause since her introduction at midfield alongside the excellent Fiona McHale. Tyrone have yet to take any points to date in the league but they are a team that is full of very talented players including Gemma Begley, Joline Donnelly and Neamh Woods. Tyrone have shown signs that they are capable of improving their results to date but the journey to Mayo with Cora Staunton at her best might not be the match that sees them get their first points on the board.

TESCO NFL Division 2

Armagh v Clare, Silverbridge, 1:00pm (C. Dourneen)

Armagh got their campaign back on track with a comprehensive win at home to Kildare in Round 3 and they now currently sit in third position in the league. The Orchard County will want to avoid dropping any points this weekend as in Round 5 they will face a crunch fixture away to Cavan. Caroline O’Hanlon is one of the best players in the country and if she is available she is sure to give Clare huge problems as will Fionnuala McKenna and Kelly Mallon. Clare were on the receiving end of a heavy defeat at the hands of Donegal last time out so they will not relish the journey North this weekend. The final three fixtures for Clare are against teams that are close to them in the league so they may be forgiven for having one eye on those matches. Anything other than a win for the home side this weekend would be a very big surprise.

Meath v Westmeath, Donaghmore Ashbourne, 1:00pm (Y. Duffy)

This is a crunch encounter for two sides that will fancy themselves to get into the play offs at the end of the season. Meath are sitting above Westmeath in the current table by a point but Westmeath will point to the fact that they have played both Cavan and Armagh already. Diane O’Hora will be satisfied with the start to the season that her Meath side have made after a big win over Down and a draw away to Clare but she will be keen to make a mark against one of the higher ranked sides. Westmeath on the other hand will not be satisfied with their form to date and will be looking for a reaction this weekend. This is always a keenly contested fixture that will be close but the visitors should have enough to shade this one.

Down v Cavan, Abbey Grammar School 3G, 2:00pm (P. Swift)

Down are one of the stories of the League to date. The 2014 TG4 Intermediate All Ireland Champions reached the semi finals last season but have struggled to make any kind of impact on the league to date in 2015 as they have lost every game conceding 100 points along the way. Cavan are the polar opposite to Down as they have gone on a winning streak that sees them top the table with a 100% record although they are yet to play either Donegal or Armagh. Cavan’s form has been exemplary to date and despite having to travel for this tie they should still be unbeaten come Sunday evening.

Donegal v Kildare, Milford, 1:00pm (J. Niland)

Donegal are justifying their status as favourites for the Division 2 title as they have overcome every obstacle in their path to date including, most notably, a one point victory over Armagh and all of this has been done in the absence of their talisman, Geraldine McLoughlin. Kildare started the league brightly with a good win away to Meath but since then they have lost heavily to Cavan and Armagh. Donegal are the other one of the ‘Big 3’ in division 2 and Kildare will look forward to getting this match out of the way and concentrate on getting results against the teams around them. Kildare are definitely a team making progress but it will be asking too much of them to try and get a result on the road against the league leaders.

TESCO NFL Division 3

Roscommon v Sligo, Kiltoom, 2:00pm (M. Kenny)

Roscommon have made light of the jump in quality between Divisions 3 and 4 as they aim to extend their winning streak to 3 matches as they host Connacht rivals, Sligo this weekend. Sligo had started the season well with back to back wins but they were brought crashing back down to earth by waterford in Round 3. This is the big game in the division and certainly could go either way. Sligo have greater experience of this level but with confidence high and home advantage Roscommon should shade this game but only just.

Longford v Leitrim, Glennon Bothers Pearse Park, 2:00pm (G. Carmody)

Longford are rooted to the bottom of the table as they have failed to pick up any points to date so the visit of the league leaders could not come at a worse time. Leitrim are looking really good so far as they maintain a 100% record and count one of the best forward in the country, Áine Tighe, amongst their number. Leitrim should win this but Longford will want to see an improved performance at the minimum.

Wexford v Fermanagh, Wexford Park, 2:00pm (S. McNulty)

Wexford have been in encouraging form as they sit just outside the play off positions. They have already played the top two teams in the division and although they lost both of those fixtures it was by narrow margins in both cases. Fermanagh are a team that is full of quality players like Marcella Monaghan, Caroline Little, Sharon Little and Aisling Moane but their results have not reflected this as they are yet to win a match. It will take a dramatic improvement for Fermanagh to get a result here but they are more than capable of raising their game; however, Wexford are a team looking up the table and although this will be a tough game it is one that they should just edge.

Tipperary v Waterford, Ardfinnan, 2:00pm (J. Flood)

Tipperary are another team that are yet to win a match and, like Longford, will not be looking forward to the visit of an unbeaten side. Waterford have steadily been improving as the league has gone on and one feels that there is more to come from the beaten 2014 finalists. Tipperary have been showing plenty of fight in their matches to date but this will be a bridge too far for them.

TESCO NFL Division 4

Derry v Antrim, St. Martin’s Desertmartin, 2:00pm (G. Corrigan)

Derry are pointless to date and, although Antrim have struggled to date, they are likely to remain rooted to the bottom of the table come the end of the match on Sunday.

Wicklow v Offaly, Dunlavin, 2:00pm (J. Murphy)

Wicklow enjoyed a big win over Derry last time out and will want to maintain their momentum this weekend. Offaly are a quality team as was demonstrated by their easy win over Derry in Round 1. Offaly should have too much for Wicklow in this match as they look to make a quick return to Division 3.

Louth v Limerick, Termonfeckin, 2:00pm (B. Rice)

Louth will need to get a win in this match to continue their progress after edging out Antrim in the previous round. Limerick are top of the table with a perfect record to date but this will be their biggest test as they travel to Louth. Limerick are a team brimming with confidence and should continue their winning streak when they travel to Louth.

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